Friday, April 30, 2010



There are an awful lot of comments on the internet by ladies who would like to have a no-shoes house, but have an husband who refuses to remove his shoes. I can only recall one comment by a man whose partner was reluctant to comply with a shoes-off policy.

Husbands, can you not see any benefit in having a clean home? If you have to get your carpet cleaned or replaced it will cost you money.

Why be bossed about by your wife? Why not take the initiative and introduce a shoes-off policy in the home yourself. Take some leadership in the household. If you read this blog, you will find plenty of reasons for not wearing shoes at home.

You cannot think that there is anything manly about being worried about getting cold feet?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Prime Minister's Big Apology

Just over a week before the election, the prime minister got into a conversation with a voter in Rochdale, Gillian Duffy, who challenged him on the subject of immigration. Failing to turn off his microphone, he was overhead describing her as a 'bigoted woman.' The prime minister ended up having to make a personal visit to the woman's home to apologise and spent 45 minutes in conversation with her.

I hope Gillian Duffy made Gordon Brown and his aides take their shoes off. I would have done.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Telling myself it's not my place..

A friend invited me over for lunch with him and his girlfriend.

Although he always removes his shoes, his girlfriend kept her boots on.

My friend had just cleaned the carpet and it looked lovely and clean (better than mine). It was painful to see the lady sitting on the carpet with her boots on. It really seemed all wrong. I tried to remind myself it was his place not mine.

After a post-lunch walk in a park and some woodland, my friend was quick to insist on shoes coming off when we returned. I would have done that before we had even had lunch.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Hospitality Part 2


Guests are aware when they visit a home that the hosts have boundaries that cannot be crossed.

Guests know or should know that they cannot go wandering about upstairs, looking in their hosts' bedrooms. They ought to be careful in conversation that they do not mention subjects that may cause offence to the host. If the host has strong views on a subject, it is best not to argue with him or her. Guests know that they cannot bring their pet dog to somebody else's home unless the host has expressly said this is acceptable. Even if the host is an animal lover, permission to bring a pet dog must be sought.

It is now recognised by most people that when you visit the home of a non-smoker, they should not smoke inside. If they need to smoke, they should put their coat on and go outside. There are still some people, probably mostly from the upper strata of British society who think it is rude to forbid smoking in one's home. However, this view is very much in a minority.

It is important to recognise these boundaries when one visits a home and if hosts prefer, even if they do not insist on it, removal of shoes, this should be complied with by guests. To ignore this boundary is, as stated in the previous post, taking hospitality for granted.

Some people would object to comparisons with smoking pointing out the health risks of smoking, compared with the minor ill effects to health of wearing shoes past the door. However, it is not so much the health risks that should deter smoking in a non-smoking home. Nobody is going to get lung cancer because a few guests smoked at a dinner party. They are unlikely to even develope a cough because of it. No, the reason one should not smoke in a non-smoking home is simply because the smells and mess are not convenient for such hosts. It is simply impolite. Likewise it is not convenient to impose the dirt and dust of your shoes in the home of a person who would object to it.

Some would argue that it is polite for guests to remove their shoes if this is what the hosts do, but it is impolite for the host to request shoes-off. They feel that it is better to leave the responsiblity of politness to guests. To my mind, this is not quite logical. If guests have the responsibility to comply with the preference of their hosts, then it is surely quite reasonable for guests to make their preference known.

Part of the reason why a verbal request for shoes-off may be necesary is because etiquette is so uncertain and in such a state fo flux on this point. While it may be a good idea to remove one's shoes when one is welcomed by a shoe-less host, as this may be a shoes-off home, such a gesture might be taken as impolite by some. There are some who go shoe-less in their home who would be surprised by guests going shoe-less. It is probably necessary for those who desire shoe-removal to make their wish known.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Hospitality Part 1


There are some who think that asking guests to remove their shoes is contrary to the principle of hospitality.

This is a culturally relative matter. Albania and Turkey are countries in which hospitality is greatly valued and yet it is expected in those countries that guests remove their shoes.

The shoes-on people argue that a hostess should primarily be concerned with her guests comfort and not with the state of her carpet or floor. However, most guests will feel more comfortable after removing their shoes. They may, admittedly, be uncomfortable because they are embarassed about their feet or they feel their shoes are part of their outfit. Those problems can be dealt with by letting guests know in advance that shoes-off is expected and so they can either bring slippers or plan their outfits with bare or stocking feet in mind. Any embarassment should be minimal if guests are not taken by surprise.

In my opinion, those who insist that guests should be allowed to keep their shoes on take hospitality for granted. I may well invite you. I will give you the best seat. I will cook for you. I will serve you the best food I can. I will give you whatever you want to drink, whether it be alcoholic or not. I will give you my undivided attention. I will entertain you with conversation. If you live nearby, I will drive you home in my car. If not, I will let you stay the night. I will wash up the dishes and cutelry you have used and clean up any mess you make. Given that I am willing to do all this for you, do you really think it is so unreasonable that I ask you to take your shoes off?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sorry, but you don't

I sometimes read blogs where the writer says 'I have a shoes-off policy in my home.' Then in the next paragraph, she states 'I would never ask visitors to remove their shoes.'

I am sorry, but if you normally let visitors come in your home with their shoes on you do not have a shoes-off policy. You have a shoes-on policy. You permit shoes to be worn in your home that have been on public toilet floors, which have walked on weed-killer saturated drives and which have walked on lead paint.

It is not reasonable to assume that your guests have cleaner shoes than your children or your husband.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The relationship between host and guest


Some people seem to see the shoes-off rule as an unfair restriction on the freedom of guests. I think that is a very sad attitude.

I rather see the removing of shoes as a beautiful and peaceful exchange between host and guest.

The guest removes her shoes when she enters the home. She shows respect to the house she is entering. She does not treat it like a restaurant where her custom is king. Nor does she treat it as her own home, where she may do as she pleases. She has entered the home of another family and she must respect the fact that their lives are lived here.

The hostess is in turn delighted by the respect that the guest shows her. In removing her shoes, the guest has entered into the environment of her family. The hostess will treat her guest with all the courtesy and kindness that she would show to her own family members. She will take care to look after her to the utmost while she remains under her roof. She will serve her the best food, give her the best seat. If necessary she will drive her home in her car or let her stay the night.

In removing her shoes, the guest becomes like the hostess, who is already shoeless. She identifies with the hostess who has welcomed her into her home. In their both becoming shoeless, the host and guest enter a fellowship and unity. They are both without shoes; they are equals. This is true friendship.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Dealing with it

When the subject of removing shoes gets raised in online discussions, some people say that they would never ask for shoes-off because they cannot bear the sight of naked feet.

I can't help wondering whether theese people really avoid going to all beaches and swimming pools.

It must be really hard for these folks in summer or on holidays, when so many people wear sandals.

Monday, April 12, 2010


On discussion forums where this subject comes up, you often get people complaining about some mother-in-law or other relative who always keeps her shoes on when visiting. The host never asks her to remove her shoes, but still feels frustrated that she keeps them on.

My question to these complainants would be how they think the relative would feel were she to discover that she is being complained about online. She might be quite upset if she knew that her behaviour was causing such annoyance.

Rather than complaining about her online, perhaps it would be better to just be honest and ask this relative to remove her shoes? Can we not learn to be honest and say what we really think and feel?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Comparison With Smoking


I think a valid comparison can be made between asking guests to remove their shoes and asking them not to smoke for three reasons.

1. In asking guests not to smoke or to remove their shoes, you are asking them to observe a boundary.

One is asking the guest to behave differently than they might in their own home.

2. While there are health issues involved in both, the overriding issue is the inconvenience caused by either guests smoking or wearing shoes in the host's home.

If a guest lights a cigarette at a dinner party, nobody is going to die of lung cancer as a result. Likewise, if a guest walks a bit of weed-killer into the carpet, it is unlikely that somebody is going to die (not that one should not be concerned about the health implications of weed-killing being walked into the carpet).

The real issue is the inconvenience caused. Smoking will bring into the house smells that are not appreciated by the host and may result in cigarette ash getting into the carpet or furniture. A non-smoking host will not appreciate this. Likewise, the host will be inconvenienced by guests keeping their shoes on. Carpets and floors may be soiled or damaged.

3. There is a possibility that the guest's comfort may be impinged by either being asked not to smoke or to remove her shoes.

If guests cannot smoke indoors, they will either have to suffer the craving or go outside in the cold to smoke.

Removing shoes is rather less likely to cause discomfort, but some guests might still be embarrassed at being asked to remove their shoes or may be unused to being shoeless in another home. This can of course, be minimized if they are informed of the policy in advance.

Guests might also be embarrassed at being asked to follow a 'house rule.' They might feel like they are being treated like children.

However, it is most likely that guests will not be at all bothered and will respect that the host behaves a certain way, whether in not smoking or not wearing shoes in the house.

If it is reasonable to ask guests not to smoke, it is perfectly reasonable to ask guests to take off their shoes.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Spring is finally here

Spring seems to finally be here. It was pretty warm today. A few people are starting to wear their flip flops.

Don't be fooled into thinking that the end of the wet weather and the arrival of the sunshine means you should start allowing shoes inside your home. The ground might be dry, but it still harbours plenty of lead, weed killer, animal excrement traces, roundworms and lots of dust.

Get your sandals out and enjoy the sun, but make sure you switch to bare feet when you go inside!

Thursday, April 08, 2010

How to silently remind guests to remove their shoes


1. Cast your eyes downwards at the guest's feet for a few seconds.

2. Make a faint smile with gritted teeth.

3. Look down at the guest's feet again.

4. When the guest looks down, nod.

This may not to work on first-time guests. This is best for reminding people who already know you don't want shoes in your house.


I went to a get-together at an home yesterday. They don't seem to enforce a shoes-off policy, but most of us who visit them remove their shoes.

A young couple came. The guy reminded his girlfriend to take off her shoes.

It does seem removing shoes is standard etiquette for people under the age of 30.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

abc: Suffer from knee pain? Wear flip-flops

abc: Suffer from knee pain? Wear flip-flops

People have warned me that I will damage my feet by wearing flip flops as often as I do. I feel very vindicated by this article. Recent evidence suggests that wearing flip flops can help to prevent osteoarthritis of the knees.

Flip flops are the perfect choice of footwear for those of us who favour shoes-off in homes as they are so easily removed.

Monday, April 05, 2010

On being a crackpot blogger

The other day I watched 2012. A rather awful film, but then I hate disaster movies. 2012 features a crazy blogger who predicts the end of the world. As it is a film, this lunatic is right.

There are plenty of crackpot bloggers out there. People who have some bee in their bonnet and start a blog to rant about it. With the internet these people can communicate to a potentially unlimited audience about the assasination of JF Kennedy, the Knights Templar and of course, the end of the world in 2012.

Guess what, I am one of those crackpot bloggers. Here I am writing to a readership of between 90-150 visitors a day on a subject of which I have no expertise. I warn you of the health risks of wearing shoes indoors and expect you to change your behaviour accordingly.

But then, unlike a lot of those crackpot bloggers, I have a professional job. I also have a PhD, which apparently means I am a proper scholar and an expert in my field (even if that has nothing to do with what I am writing about here). And if you met me, you would probably find I am a pretty regular sort of guy that you could enjoy a beer with.

And the really interesting thing is that although I may be a crackpot blogger, what I am talking about is what a good deal of people do anyway. You see, in a lot of countries, like Sweden and Bulgaria, they don't need some crazy person like me to tell them to take their shoes off at the door. They find it hard to believe that in some places people keep them on. And in the USA and Great Britain, lots of people have decided to keep their homes shoe-free without ever visiting this blog.

So maybe I am not such a ranting, lunatic crackpot.

Fictional People (Stereotypes?) Part 2



Emma is 33 and in management within a computer game company in London. She is single.

Emma lives a very active lifestyle and enjoys fencing and scuba diving. She also has a vibrant social life, frequently eating out with friends and going to clubs.

Emma has a shoes-off policy in her apartment. When she moved in, she was happy to walk about with her shoes on, but after a complaint from a neighbour below about the noise of her heels on the hardwood floor, she realised she would have to make her home shoe-free.

Naturally, it was necessary for Emma to require this rule of her friends. However, many of them also lived in expensive London apartments and had a similar rule. Emma tends to go out to socialise rather than entertain, though she and friends will sometimes have a drink or two at her apartment before going out. When she does have friends over, it tends to be for casual romantic movie watching occasions where shoe removal is pretty unconventional.

Edward and Florence

Edward is in his fifties and owns an organic farm in Herefordshire. He lives with his wife. His two grown-up sons have since moved out of the family home.

Edward served seven years in the air force. He has a passion for all things military and has a huge collection of uniforms and military equipment from the second world war.

He is also keen on politics, being an active member of the UK Independence party. He is convinced that the European Union is a key component of the New World Order that is intent on subjugating Britain. He often hosts UKIP meetings at his farm.

Edward's wife, Florence, is considered by some to be a little eccentric. She has written two books on the subject of fairies. She has a website dedicated to the subject of British folklore. Florence also has a talent for painting and has hosted several exhibitions of her work at the farmhouse.

Edward and Florence have a shoes-off policy in their home.

Anyone who has visited the countryside knows that their is plenty of muck there which nobody would want walked into their carpet. Edward and Florence tend to have lots of visitors and so have been clear that shoes-off is a requirement in their farmhouse. Florence also claims that removing shoes is a way of showing respect to the fairies that inhabit the place, citing traditions from Asia in support of this thesis.

Most of Edward and Florence's visitors are either attending political meetings or viewing Florence's paintings. They are normally informed through the relevant websites that visitors are expected to remove their shoes and are suggested to bring slippers.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Conversations with Colleagues

A colleague today told me his wife insists on a shoes-off policy. He dislikes having to ask visitors to remove their shoes. He is of African origin, but married to a white lady. I told him why it is important to keep the no-shoes rule and that wiping feet on a doormat is not sufficent.

Another colleague told me that when attending a guitar lesson in a home, she remembered having a conversation with me on this subject and removed her shoes.

Those of you who seem to love talking about shoe removal at work will find this one interesting. A colleague told me that in the previous office where she worked, she often removed her shoes. However, in the summer they tended to smell rather strong and her colleagues insited on her leaving the shoes outside!